Things aren’t looking great for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. The team sits in last place in the Western Conference at 2-12 and Bryant is averaging only 15.2 points per game while shooting 31.1 percent from the field.
According to ESPN, Bryant tied his worst career shooting performance in which he attempted at least five shots in Tuesday night’s 111-77 loss to the undefeated Golden State Warriors. But the team’s problems go far deeper than his shooting, Bryant said.
“I’m not really worried about it, honestly,” he said. “My shooting will be better. I could’ve scored 80 tonight. It wouldn’t have made a damn difference. We just have bigger problems. I could be out there averaging 35 points a game. We’d be what, 3-11? We’ve got to figure out how to play systematically in a position that’s going to keep us in ballgames.”
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says it has gotten so bad that Bryant should just retire. Right now. As in, during the season.
“Even the great Kobe Bryant can’t be great at age 37 with all of these obstacles joined, colluding with one another to bring him down,” Smith said. “It is a damn shame that Kobe has to go out this way. But it is over. There is nothing he can do, especially in the Western Conference. His skills have diminished.”
Smith continued: “I believe that it is over. I believe Kobe Bryant should retire. …I don’t think he should wait. I doubt he’ll do it, but I think Kobe should retire right now.
Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen, even if Bryant is playing in his 20th season in the league. This is the guy who once scored 81 points in a game, and whose competitiveness is legendary, even by NBA standards.
But Smith isn’t the only one asking Bryant to call it quits. Complex’s Russ Bengtson wrote an open letter last Friday begging Bryant to retire.
“I think your career is over. I don’t mean at the end of the season, I mean right now,” Bengtson wrote. “Honestly, the best thing you could do — for your body, for your mind, for your family—is just to pack up that Staples Center locker, take the helicopter back to the coast, and start enjoying life as a former NBA player. It’s just not worth it anymore.”
Bryant has not said when he is officially retiring, but earlier this summer, Lakers part-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss told the Los Angeles Times that the team expects this season to be Bryant’s last of his career.
“We’re going to approach it like it is, but that doesn’t mean it is,” Buss said of Bryant. “I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘This is it, Kobe, you’re done,’ because it’s not my decision, it’s his decision.”
And hey, Kobe, listen it’s not your fault. Smith added in his rant that he doesn’t blame Bryant for his downfall, but “Father Time” and the Lakers franchise.
“They neglected Kobe Bryant, left him to hang out and dry,” Smith said of the Lakers. “And they have precipitated, expedited the process of Kobe’s demise because of what they have surrounded him with and what they have failed to surround him with. It is a tragedy what they have done to him. But it is what it is. And because of it, we can’t deny that he looks how he looks.”